Foley/Milton debate, message 5a2

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From: (Richard Milton)
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Reply-To: Richard Milton <>
Date: Sun, 07 Dec 1997 18:49:05
Subject: Re: Foley's reply to Milton

Jim Foley wrote:-

>Because Richard Milton's last message was getting quite long, I will 
>respond to it in parts.  This first part responds to his claims about 
>Java Man.

I agree with Jim Foley that this correspondence is getting long and 
I'm happy for it to be broken up into more manageable parts.  However, 
I'm concerned that some readers, including Jim himself, have lost 
touch with the original point at issue and I'd like to restate it.

Jim Foley, and all Darwinist scientists, believe that humans and 
modern apes have evolved from a common ape-like ancestor by Darwinian 
processes of mutation and natural selection.  Jim and his colleagues believe 
that they have presented strong evidence for this theory in the form of 
fossil remains of creatures intermediate between the hypothetical ape-like 
ancestor and humans.

I have rebutted this second belief by saying that the evidence 
offered is not strong but weak for two reasons. First the evidence is 
ambiguous and Darwinists have misrepresented the evidence as being 
stronger than it is.  Second much of the evidence can be explained 
more economically by explanations other than Darwinian evolutionary 

An important point to note here is that it is Jim and his colleagues 
who are making an extraordinary claim and I who am questioning Jim's 
claims.  In his last two messages, Jim has cleverly attempted to 
reverse our positions, suggesting it is incumbent on me to produce 
evidence to support my position (he talks above, for instance, of _my_ 
claims for "Java man".)  This is nonsense.  As noted skeptic Carl 
Sagan said: "extraordinary claims demand extraordinary evidence".  
Human descent from an apelike ancestor is an extraordinary claim: so 
Jim and Darwinists have to convince us that they have produced extraordinary 
evidence -- not merely an argumentative interpretation.  I shall refer back 
to the "Sagan Principle" at appropriate points in what follows.

>> > >   Glen [Kuban] is becoming confused again. FACT: Java "man" was a
>> > >    gibbon (see any competent authority). 
>> > >
>> >>Glen is correct.  *Every* competent authority I'm aware of (Leakey,
>> >>Johanson, Walker, Trinkaus, Wood, Day, Tattersall, Brace, Campbell, etc)
>> >>considers Java Man to be a member of Homo erectus.  Richard, which
>> >>competent authorities do you have in mind?
>> >
>> >   RM
>> >>> For a clear resume of the real facts see John Reader _Missing Links_,
>> >>> 1981, [details of discovery of Java Man followed ...]
>> >
>> > JF
>> > I don't dispute any of his facts about how Java Man was discovered.  But
>> > does he give any evidence that Java Man is a gibbon?  I'll bet he says, 
>> > as I do, that Java Man is Homo erectus.
>> If you consult the reference I gave, you will find that John 
>> Reader explains how Eugene Dubois' 'discovery' is entirely bogus and 
>> consists of an ape-like skull cap that was found in a different place and 
>> at a different time from a human thigh bone.
>I did consult it, and I found that:
>  "The new specimens [the Sangiran and Peking skulls] matched what there
>  was of Dubois' fossils, and suplied enough of what was missing to satisfy
>  everyone that the Java and Peking fossils all represented an early form
>  of man, with almost nothing of the ape about him."
>This is meant to support your claim that Java Man was a gibbon?

Jim already knows that I was referring to the discovery of "Java Man" 
by Eugene Dubois, not to the discovery of human fossils by others.  
Dubois was responsible for neither the Sangiran nor the Peking fossils 
(which have been assigned to Homo because they are human). Dubois's 
discovery consisted of an ape-like skull cap bogusly associated with a 
human leg bone.  Once the association is admitted to be bogus (as Jim 
has) the only question remaining is what scientific reason is there 
for describing the skull as human or ancestral to human? 

It is important to appreciate that this question is the top and bottom 
of this entire section of our debate. Jim (later on) answers this 
central question in a way which, as we shall see, is scientifically 
unsound and untenable.

>>     RM
>> >>> The leg bone was almost certainly that of a modern human.  It is my 
>> >>> understanding that the skullcap is now regarded as that of an extinct 
>> >>> gibbon-like creature. 
>> >
>> > JF
>> > On what is this understanding based?  Do you know of *any* scientists
>> > qualified in paleoanthropology who believe this?
>> Dr Rudolph Virchow, Director of the Berlin Society for Anthropology and 
>> founder of the science of pathology in its modern form, examined Dubois' 
>> fossils and wrote:   In my opinion this creature 
>> was an animal, a giant gibbon in fact.  The thigh bone has not the 
>> slightest connection with the skull." (See H. Wendt, From Ape to Adam, 
>> 1972, pp 167-168).
>This quotation dates from 1896 (i.e. over a century ago) when only one such
>fossil was known.

In what way does the passage of time invalidate scientific data or the 
methods of scientific enquiry?    Are you suggesting that human anatomy has 
changed since Virchow enunciated the principles by which modern pathology is 
conducted?  Or that ape anatomy has changed since his day?  And if not, what 
are you saying?

Remember that Virchow didn't merely offer an opinion on the Dubois skullcap, 
he gave a scientific reason why it was that of an ape, and not human (a 
reason which you have deleted): - "The skull has a deep suture between the 
low vault and the upper edge of the orbits.  Such a suture is found only in 
apes, not in man.  Thus the skull must belong to an ape."  Tell us why this 
reason is no longer scientifically valid, Jim.

The real truth is that the scientific authority I quote doesn't suit 
you because he is one of the most eminent anatomists who has lived in 
the modern era and because his conclusion contradicts your Darwinist 

<snip -- details of debate regarding views of Marcellin Boule deleted>  I 
have deleted this in the interests of brevity.  However, if Jim wants me to 
respond to his representation of Boule's views in detail I will do so 
separately.  I don't think it necessary here because as Imre Lakatos said:-

     "Sir, your composure baffles me.  A single counter-example 
     refutes a conjecture as effectively as ten.... Hands up!  You 
     have to surrender."

>> My final reference is that of Eugene Dubois himself, the discoverer of so-
>> called "Java Man", who eventually dropped his hominid claim and in 1932 
>> wrote, "_Pithecanthropus_ was not a man, but a gigantic genus allied to the 
>> gibbons on account of its exceedingly large brain volume and distinguished 
>> at the same time by its faculty of assuming an erect attitude and gait." 
>> (Quoted by Stephen Jay Gould in "Eight Little Piggies, 1993, p 135.)  
>> Gould quotes this with the bizarre aim of proving that Dubois did _not_ 
>> think Pithecanthropus was a gibbon!  
>But the above quote doesn't say Java Man was a gibbon, only "allied to a
>gibbon", which is consistent with also believing that it was evolving
>towards humans.  

None of the palaeontologists I quoted said that Dubois's skull _was_ a 
modern gibbon as Jim knows perfectly well.  They said that it was a 
"gigantic" gibbon (Virchow) "possibly a large gibbon" (Boule) and "a 
gigantic genus allied to the gibbons" (Dubois).  Their meaning is 
crystal clear as Jim also knows: they are saying the most likely 
explanation for the skullcap is that it belonged to an extinct ape 
ancestral to, or related to modern gibbons.  But as I have repeatedly 
stated, the kind of ape the skullcap belongs to is scientifically 
irrelevant.   As it is _not_ evidence to support Darwinism then it 
doesn't matter what kind of non-evidence it is.

For you to say that Dubois's quote is "consistent with also believing that it 
was evolving towards humans" is a perfect example of how Darwinist thinking 
is infinitely flexible and so explains every observation.  If you are a 
Darwinist then the statement that the skullcap belonged to _any_ living 
organism is consistent with believing it is partway towards evolving into 
humans -- whether it is that of an aardvark or a zebra.

>The same Gould article also quotes Dubois as saying:
>  "... I still believe, now more firmly than ever, that the Pithecanthropus
>  of Trinil is the real 'missing link'."

No-one is disputing that Dubois claimed he had found a missing link.  That is 
why he used the name _Pithecanthropus erectus_.  The question we are 
discussing here is, was the creature to whom the Trinil skullcap belonged 
human-like (Homo) or apelike (eg a gibbon or gibbon-like animal).

>The following report is from Nature, 136:234, Aug 10, 1935:
>  E. Dubois: On the gibbon-like appearance of Pithecanthropus erectus.
>  While possessing many gibbon-like characteristics, P. erectus fills the
>  previously vacant place between the Anthropomorphae and man as regards
>  cephalic coefficient. (Amsterdam Royal Acad., Proc 38, No 6, June 1935)
>This and Gould's article make it quite clear that Dubois was continuing to
>claim Java Man as an ape-man (albeit a gibbon-like one) and still
>considered it a human ancestor.

Your parenthetical remark "albeit a gibbon-like one" is disingenuous. The 
whole point of this discussion is what kind of creature the Trinil skullcap 
belonged to.  You challenged me to support my statements that it was a 
gibbon-like creature and I have done so.  I quote Dubois in support of my 
contention and you somehow seem to think that quoting Dubois confirming its 
gibbon-like appearance is confirmation of your viewpoint that the creature 
was human-like!  Read the title of Dubois's paper again, Jim ("On the gibbon-
like appearance of Pithecanthropus erectus") and then tell me Dubois didn't 
think it was gibbon-like.

Dubois's faulty identification of Pithecanthropus as ancestral to man rested 
on the false association of the skullcap with the leg-bone which Dubois did 
not know (as we now do) is probably modern.  However, he was in _no doubt_ 
that Pithecanthropus was gibbon-like and said so, even in this, his final 

As I have repeatedly asked, Jim, if the Trinil skullcap is ape (of any kind) 
what _scientific_ evidence is there to lead anyone to think it ancestral to 

>To remind everyone, Milton said that it was a "FACT" that Java Man was a
>gibbon, accepted by "any competent authority".  I listed 9 living,
>recognized paleoanthropologists who all say it was Homo erectus (I could
>easily find more).  Richard countered with three quotes, 101, 74, and 65
>years old, the second of which is from Boule who later changed his mind,
>and the third of which is from Dubois, who always considered Java Man an
>ape-man and a human ancestor.
>Since Richard said:
>  "It is my understanding that the skullcap is NOW regarded as that of an
>  extinct gibbon-like creature."
>surely it's not too much to ask for a *living* qualified scientist who
>agrees with him?  Instead, he had to go back to the last *century* to
>find one, and even then it was a minority view that was refuted by later
>evidence, as his own sources document.

You seem to have not noticed that you _yourself_ just quoted the Trinil 
skullcap's discoverer Eugene Dubois describing it as "gibbon-like".
But since Jim feels uncomfortable with authorities such as professor Rudolph 
Virchow and Eugene Dubois because Virchow and Dubois agree with me and 
contradict Jim, let's examine the evidence rationally.

To remind everyone of what Jim Foley is claiming here, he is 
saying that the skullcap found by Eugene Dubois can justifiably 
be called "Java Man" and described as ancestral to human because of A) Jim 
claims it has a capacity of c900cc and B) Jim's belief that humans have 
descended from apelike ancestors. (Everything else here is essentially 

Let's examine that proposition analytically.  First the skullcap's capacity.
In reality, the Trinil skullcap represents a tiny fraction of the 
skull of the individual from which it came (perhaps as little as 10 
percent or as much as 20 per cent) and the total capacity of the skull 
from which it came depends entirely on the assumptions you make about 
the creature from which it came.  If you assume it came from an 
apelike creature then it has a capacity of around 700-800cc.  If you 
assume it come from a human ancestor, with an enlarged skull to accommodate 
its superior humanlike brain, then it might have had a capacity of 800-900cc 
as Jim asserts.

There are at least three possible scientific explanations for the finding of 
a 700cc-900cc capacity ape-like skull in Java:-

1. The skullcap is that of a modern great ape, such as a gorilla.

2. The skullcap is that of an extinct great ape of larger size than modern 
apes (such as a gibbon).  This possibility is supported by the fact that 
there has been a tendency to gigantism among mammals (and indeed reptiles) in 
the geological past (for example the extinct giant sloths and armadillos of 
South America and the giant tortoises and elephants of the Siwalik Hills 

3.  The skullcap is that of an extinct species transitional 
between an apelike ancestor and modern humans.

Of these possibilities, the first two require little or no new 
data, are consistent with existing knowledge, and require no 
fundamentally new scientific hypotheses to support them.  The third 
possibility requires a fundamentally extraordinary hypothesis for 
which there is no evidence at all, extraordinary or otherwise.

Who has made his case scientifically here, Jim?  You and your fellow 
Darwinists or me?

>>     RM
>>>>> But the important fact is not the origin of the fossils but that the
>>>>> association of the femur and skull cap is not scientifically justified.
>> >
>> >JF
>> >I consider this totally irrelevant.  I think the association to the same
>> >individual is probably incorrect, and many of the above scientists 
>> >probably do too.  That has nothing to do with how the skullcap is 
>> >classified.
>> On the contrary. It is the _only_ issue relevant to how the skullcap is 
>> classified. The only compelling reason for thinking the skullcap anything 
>>other than an ape is its "association" with the femur of an upright walking 
>> human.  Once you accept that no such association exists then you are left
>> with the inescapable conclusion that Dubois' Java "man" _never_ existed 
>>except in the overworked imaginations of ideological Darwinists like Dubois 
>> himself.
>> If the ape skullcap is _not_ legitimately associated with any human 
>> remains, as Jim himself now admits, then perhaps Jim can tell us how the 
>> skullcap can justifiably be described as 'Java Man' or any other kind of 
>> man?  What _scientific_ reason is there for thinking it human or ancestral 
>> to human?
> Anatomy.  Because the Java Man skullcap had a capacity of 
> around 900-940 cc, far larger than any ape.  

Both these claims are categorically and unambiguously false.  

To begin with, you have deliberately chosen a high estimate for the 
capacity of the complete skull (about 10 per cent of which was found).
You yourself later quote Wendt as estimating the skullcap's capacity 
as only 775cc.

But even if your high estimate were correct, a capacity of around 900cc is 
consistent with being a large ape like a gorilla, (or an extinct gibbon-like 
creature of large size).  Both of these explanations are millions of times 
more probable than a Darwinian explanation and do not require the creation of 
elaborate unnecessary hypothetical processes of mutation and natural 
selection, or hypothetical apelike ancestors.

> Because we have found later similar skulls that are more 
> complete and are obviously not from apes.

This is totally false.  What evidence is there that the later and 'more 
complete' skulls are anything whatever to do with Eugene Dubois's 'Java Man'?  
You are trying to fudge together two completely unconnected sources of 
evidence to lend the Dubois skullcap a spurious validity but that is a bogus 
scientific procedure.  If you wish to maintain that Dubois's skull is hominid 
or ancestral to humans, you must prove it by reference to the anatomy and 
geology of the skullcap itself, not to evidence found elsewhere and with no 
provable link other than in your imagination.

I repeat, where is your proof?  If you are so certain the Dubois skullcap is 
human-like, show us your evidence for this belief.

>For example, from Wendt's "In Search of Adam" (you might also find this in
>the Wendt book you quoted), about the discovery of the Sangiran II skull:
>  "The skull of Sangiran and that of Trinil, in the words of the
>  anthropologist Weidenreich, "were as like as two eggs."  It only differed
>  in being much more nearly complete.  The structure of the temporal
>  sections and the position of the gap at the back of the head showed
>  unmistakably that the owner had been no ape but a human being, an "early"
>  specimen, to be sure, with a brain volume of 775 cc." (p.301)

The fact that the Dubois skullcap is so incomplete is the key 
objection against it.  Note also Wendt's estimate of the capacity of the 
skullcap -- 775cc is _less_ than the capacity of a modern gorilla.

>There is also the extreme similarity between the Java Man skullcap and the
>Turkana Boy skull (
>Is the Turkana Boy skull a human or an ape?  If human, how can you then
>claim that the very similar Java Man is an ape?

It is your claim that there is an extreme similarity between 'Java Man' and 
the Turkana Boy, not mine.  You are asking me to substantiate your own wild 
surmises for you.

>>     RM
>>>>> It was in recognition of these facts that the restoration of Java 'man' 
>> >>> paid for by Ernst Haeckel was removed from the Leiden Museum to its 
>> >>> basement and in the mid 1980s, the exhibit of Java 'man' was removed 
>> >>> from public display in the American Museum of Natural History.
>> >
>> >JF
>>>References?  This seems *highly* unlikely, given that Ian Tattersall, head
>> >of the Dept. of Anthropology at the AMNH, and curator of their human
>> >evolution exhibit, discusses Java Man prominently in his books "The Human
>> >Oddyssey" and "The Fossil Trail".  In these books it is clear that both
>> >Tattersall and the scientific community accept Java Man as Homo erectus.
>> There is nothing at all inconsistent with Dubois' "Java Man" being proved 
>> bogus, removed from the AMNH yet Darwinist scientists continuing to speak 
>> and write as if it were proven true. That is how Darwinism works. 
>> Its power as a scientific urban myth is so great it transcends factual 
>> evidence. This is the central point my book makes.
>> Perhaps Jim will tell us _where precisely_ today in the American Museum of 
>> Natural History we can see the casts of Eugene Dubois' "Java Man" fossils 
>> that were on show until the 1980s?
>Sure. I emailed Ian Tattersall to ask him, and here is his reply:
>  Dear Jim: In the mid-1980s the entire ageing "Hall of Man" (including a
>  Java cast) at the AMNH was removed, to make way for the new Hall of Human
>  Biology and Evolution, in which casts of Homo erectus from Java as well
>  as elsewhere are prominently displayed.  Hope this helps.  Good luck,
>  Ian.
>Since he did not specifically mention Dubois' skullcap, I asked him about
> >Ian, thanks for that info.  Can you confirm that the original Trinil 2
> >skullcap discovered by Dubois is one of those casts?
>  I sure can.  Best, Ian.
>So I'm curious about why you claimed that Java Man is no longer in the

I am willing to accept in good faith your assurance that the cast of Dubois's 
'Java Man' skullcap, having been removed in the mid-1980s as I said, has now 
been put back again and, accordingly, I now withdraw my statement that it can 
no longer be seen.

It is, however, disappointing to learn that, having done the scientifically 
honest thing in removing Dubois's fossil, the AMNH has now gone back on its 
decision and restored a bogus exhibit to its displays.  I shall be making 
representations to the Museum to ensure that this bogus fossil is correctly 
labelled as that of an apelike creature, and making clear that there is no 
scientific evidence linking it to humans.

> By the way, I know Richard is familiar with the British Museum of
> Natural History exhibits.  What do they say Java Man is?

To its credit, the British Museum is sufficiently embarrassed by Dubois's 
fossils that it removed the cast of Dubois's leg bone when it was discredited 
by Day and Mollison and the bogus association became no longer scientifically 
tenable.  (I notice you didn't ask the AMNH about the femur and they didn't 
volunteer anything). Sadly, however, the museum continues to display a cast 
of Dubois's skullcap in its human palaeontology exhibit, although they have 
at least had the good grace to drop the discredited "Java Man" tag and have 
instead now labelled the skullcap as "Trinil Man".  I suspect that they are 
trying to pull the same gypsy switch as you attempted to pull here -- that 
is, trying to fudge the bogus Dubois skullcap with the human skull found at 
Trinil to make them seem part of the same evidence.

>>  JF
>>>I don't know anything about the Leiden reconstruction or why it might have 
>> >been removed.  Any references on this?
>> I've already given you the reference to this. See John Reader, 'Missing 
>> Links', 1981.  If you consult it you will see the photograph of 
>> "Java Man" standing forlornly in the basement on page 53.
>So he is.  Doesn't mean Java Man is a gibbon, of course.  As Reader points
>out, Java Man is now thought to be more human-like than Dubois'
>reconstruction, not less.

This is an example of Foleyism that I shall treasure and will certainly quote 
in my next book, if Jim will give his permission.  First Jim challenges my 
statement: it seems to him improbable. I prove my statement with 
uncontestable evidence, so Jim shifts his ground.  OK so my statement is 
true, but now it is suddenly unimportant.

It was Arthur C Clarke who said that there are four stages in the 
acceptance of any new scientific idea.

1.  It's nonsense.
2.  OK it's true, but it's unimportant.
3.  I always said it was important.
4.  I thought of it first.

I look forward to the day when Jim claims, on, that it 
was _he_ who first expressed doubts about neo-Darwinism, despite the 
barbaric and ill-informed attacks by people like Richard Milton.

>> > JF
>> > Not a single scientist I am aware of would call Homo habilis a modern 
>> > human or an ape.  (I gave 5 quotes above showing differences from modern 
>>> humans). Not a single scientist says that Java Man is a gibbon, something 
>> > Richard claims is a "FACT" accepted by any competent authority.  Not a 
>> > single scientist disputes that Homo erectus is morphologically more 
>> > primitive than Homo sapiens.  
>> Here Jim has once again grossly overstated his case when he makes 
>> statements like 'Not a single scientist ...'  However one can make his 
>> statement approximately true by a simple change to 'Not a single Darwinist 
>> scientist...'  when it at once becomes tautologically true and is merely a 
>> statement about ideological interpretations of ambiguous data.
>Would you be happier if I said "Not a single recent qualified
>paleoanthropologist" thinks Java Man is a gibbon?  Now do you know of any

I've already explained to you in my last post how to change this quote 
to make it true.  You simply restrict it Darwinists. Living or dead 
makes no difference, because it is ideologically-motivated not 
scientifically based.

>Since you now seem to agree that no evolutionary scientists
>thinks Java Man was a gibbon, why did you say earlier that "any competent
>authority" would accept that statement as true?  Do you use some strange
>definition of "competent authority" that excludes the entire
>paleoanthropological community?

I certainly do _not_ agree. Your re-phrased statement is not equivalent to 
mine at all.  There are plenty of scientists (including professional 
biologists) who are evolutionists but who are not Darwinists.  Dr Rupert 
Sheldrake is a good example.  Professor Brian Goodwin is probably another. 
Professor Fred Hoyle is a third.  If you wish me to I will circulate the 
membership of the Scientific and Medical Network with the question: "Do you 
consider yourself a Darwinist?" and let you know the result.

My definition of competent is the usual one. I think it is fair to 
exclude ideologically-motivated beliefs from what is competent.  For 
instance, in fifteenth century Italy it was true to say that "all 
competent authorities agree that the solar system is heliocentric" 
even though the majority of physicists then asserted it was 
terracentric.  And in eighteenth century Europe it was true to say 
that all competent authorities agree that stones can fall from the 
sky, even though the majority of scientists concurred with Antoine 
Lavoisier that "Stones cannot fall from the sky because there are no 
stones in the sky."

You continue to insist on equating competency with the majority 
opinion.  I equate it with adherence to scientific knowledge.

Getting back in touch with our objectives

The point of this debate, as I mentioned at the beginning, is 
that Jim and his fellow Darwinists claim to have provided fossil 
evidence of species transitional between an apelike ancestor and 
modern humans.  So, what has this part of the debate, regarding the 
validity of Eugene Dubois so-called 'Java Man' skullcap contributed to 
that evidence?

The answer is that it contributes nothing.  We have a skullcap with a 
capacity of something roughly between 700cc and 900cc that could 
belong to either an extinct ape or a large anthropoid ape. It could 
conceivably belong to some hypothetical transitional species, if such 
things exist.  But neither Jim nor anyone he has referred to has 
produced any evidence that Dubois's skullcap has anything to do with human 
ancestry, merely their opinions as convinced Darwinists looking for evidence 
to confirm their theory.

Jim has here selected a high-capacity interpretation of the Dubois 
skullcap, not because there is any scientific reason to prefer a high-
end estimate, but simply because it fits in with his Darwinian 

As noted earlier, If you assume it came from an apelike creature then it has 
a capacity of around 700-800cc.  If you assume it come from a human ancestor, 
with an enlarged skull to accommodate its superior humanlike brain, then it 
might have had a capacity of 800-900cc as Jim asserts.

The point here is that there is no _scientific_ evidence to indicate which 
interpretation is true.  The course dictated by accepted scientific practice 
is therefore to choose the most economical explanation -- that the skullcap 
is that of an apelike creature with a capacity of around 700-800cc, a 
capacity which is perfectly consistent with the cranial capacity of, for 
instance, a modern anthropoid ape like a gorilla.

The _only_ evidence Jim and his Darwinist friends have put up against this is 
their (no doubt perfectly sincere) belief in Darwinism.  In other words, all 
Jim's sound and fury on this issue is just smoke and mirrors, proving 

If Jim wants me, or any thinking person, to take his claims
for Darwinism seriously, he is going to have to produce some evidence
that stands up to even casual scrutiny.

Richard Milton

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